BOSTON (CBS) -- The biggest story regarding the Patriots and their current crop of free-agents-to-be has without a doubt been the value of Trey Flowers.
Everyone in New England has known for years how impactful a player Flowers is, but after a dynamic 2018 season, the secret's out. As a result, it appears as though Flowers really is in a position to make some big-time money on the open market.
And according to ESPN's Dan Graziano, Flowers could end up making even more than the highest estimates we've heard thus far.
Graziano, in a story Monday on ESPN.com, said that Flowers could get paid more than $18 million annually, and that the Lions are a prime threat to snatch the defensive end off the open market. Graziano also referred to Flowers as "former Patriots defensive end."
Multiple sources expect former Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers to get a monster deal (maybe in excess of $18 million per year) on the open market after many of the top free-agent pass-rushers got franchised. Two of Flowers' former New England defensive coordinators are now head coaches: Brian Flores in Miami and Matt Patricia in Detroit. Watch Flowers for the Lions, who are expected to be among the most aggressive players on this market.
Notably, the Patriots opted not to place the franchise tag on Flowers. That franchise tag would have ensured that Flowers remained on the roster for 2019, at the cost of $17.1 million.
Though ESPN's Mike Reiss said on Sports Final that the Dolphins may not really be in the mix, Miami was reportedly considered a "front-runner" to land Flowers earlier this month.
Matt Patricia and the Lions were already aggressive in scooping up one former Patriot, as the team signed Danny Amendola on Monday, just days after Miami released the veteran slot receiver.
Flowers, 25, recorded 7.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in the regular season last year, before recording two sacks in the playoff run to a Super Bowl.
The Patriots on Friday acquired veteran defensive end Michael Bennett in a trade with the Eagles, a move that did not eliminate the possibility of re-signing Flowers but nevertheless could help offset the potential loss of Flowers on the defensive line.
The legal tampering window opens Monday in the NFL, though contracts can't officially be signed until Wednesday at 4 p.m.
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